(NEW YORK, NY) — On Tuesday night, the Rent Guideline Board approved rent hikes on the monthly payments of more than one million rent-stabilized apartments in New York City. The new changes to the regulations will be permanent and will go as followed; for one-year leases tenants an expect a 1.5% hike and for a two-year lease tenants can expect a 2.5% increase. The goal of the recent change is to protect tenants from some of the most expensive housing markets, the regulations will also extend to the entire state allowing other municipalities to enforce their own rules to keep apartments affordable.
Tenants chanting for a rent freeze pic.twitter.com/EUUwa5BY0n
— Luis Ferré-Sadurní (@luisferre) June 25, 2019
What are rent- stabilized apartments?
In 1969 post-war, New York City enacted the rent regulations known as “rent stabilization” after rent was rising exponentially. The Rent Guidelines Board was in charge of establishing annual guidelines following a review of economic conditions of the residential real estate industry in NYC including factors such as real estate taxes, sewer, and water fees as well as other relevant data relating to the buildings. Rent stabilized tenants are meant to be protected from sharp increases in rent and have the right to renew their leases.
There are three main features under the rent stabilization system, these include Affordability, Habitability, and Security of Tenure. The Rent Stabilization Law of 1969 and Emergency Tenant Protection Act of 1974 state that fair and generally affordable rents are the primary objectives of the laws, and protect tenants against abnormal rent increases.
Before 1943 a tenants obligation was to pay rent independently from an owners obligation to provide a habitable apartment. According to nyc.gov tenants were required to pay rent even when services were unavailable or when grievous conditions existed. In 1939, the state departed from the tradition of obligating tenants to do so by permitting tenants to deposit rent into court proceeding but did not allow for compensation for apartment conditions that threatened life, health, or safety.
The security of tenure requires that under rent regulation the power for a landlord to evict is eliminated in favor of a modified power to remove tenants for itemized causes, also protecting tenants from illegal evictions and bedevilments. Under rent stabilization there are only two means for ending tenancy which include eviction, tenants can be evicted under circumstances such as nonpayment of rent, maintaining a nuisance, or illegal usage of the apartment for illicit purposes. Secondly for refusing to renew the lease circumstances such as the recovery of the apartment for the owners personal use or when the resident has a primary residence somewhere else.
What changes will take place to rent-stabilized apartments?
For one-year leases rent may go up to a maximum of 1.5%. For two-year leases, your landlord will now be allowed to increase your rent by 2.5 %. In 2017, the median rent of a stabilized apartment located in NYC was $1,269, this means that average tenant could be paying $19 extra for a one year lease and $31 for a two-year lease. This year’s hike was comparable to 2018’s where for a one-year lease there was a 1.5% hike and a 2.4% for two-year leases.
According to the New York Times, the Rent Guidelines Board listed rules that benefited landlords but will now be changed or abolished. Rules that will be abolished include ‘high income regulation’ which means if a tenant gained more than $200,000 a year for two consecutive years then the landlord would be able to deregulate the unit, ‘vacancy decontrol’ which permitted that once rent-stabilized apartment rate reached $2,774 per month it could be reverted to market rate, this rule led to the deregulation of more than 155,000 units and will now be abolished as well. Changes were made to rules such as allowing rent hikes for building improvements, in the past landlords have been able to increase a tenant’s rent up to 6% per year if changes were made to the building, even if the tenant was directly or indirectly affected. Changes to this rule include decreasing the percentage to 2% and limitations will be made to rent hikes if landlords renovated or improved a tenants apartment.
How are NYC residents reacting?
Protesters and community activist groups attended the meeting on Tuesday night, of course, many were outraged. Anne Marie Grant, a resident of Manhattan told the New York Post “ The tenants of New York deserve a break, they sold us out, rent is skyrocketing, rent increases lead to evictions.” A member of Community Action for Safe Apartments, Randy Dillard stated “people making minimum wage and with big families can’t take rent increases and pay bills, all of this money is going into the landlords’ pockets”
For years tenants have opposed any increase to rent, they state that the city has favored landlord profits for the 13th consecutive year. They call for freezes and rollbacks to the new vote, they also argue for minimal increases so they are still able to pay their bills without fearing homelessness. On the other hand, landlords don’t believe that the increase is enough, they pressed for greater increases to cover their increasing operating costs since the costs have gone up 21.5% and taxes are 7.1% yearly. Members of the Rent Guideline Board who represent property owners proposed a rent hike of 3.75% to 5.75% increase for one-year leases and 4.75% to 6.75% for two-year leases but was rejected. Landlords argued that property taxes aren’t covered with the rent hike because water and sewer rates are consistently rising and overall will not help invest back into their buildings, in order to keep up with investments into the building the Rent Guidelines Board would have to increase rent to 7.5% annually.
The vote will go into effect on October 1st, 2019.